About the SFMGA

Monday, June 01, 2009

Attract Bees to Your Garden

The Blue Orchard Mason Bee is a native species found throughout the U.S. This mighty pollinator, doing the work of 120 European honey bees, is not affected by many of the maladies harming honey bees. To attract and build a population of these industrious native bees in your garden, you need two basic elements: flowers to pollinate and nests to dwell in.

Blue orchard bees are most likely already buzzing around your neighborhood if you have fruit or flowering trees and the right spring blooming perennials and annuals.

Install Nest Tubes to Attract Bees

To attract bees to your garden and help them begin to build their population, you should provide Blue Orchard Mason Bee nest tubes in which they can raise their young.

These nesting tubes are put out in March and April when the recently mated female bees are looking for sheltered spots to lay their eggs. The female mason bees lay their eggs in the nest tubes. Here they hatch into larvae which the mother bee feeds with pollen from surrounding flowers. By mid-summer, the larvae turn into cocoons where they rest in their protective tube until they hatch as new adult bees the following spring.

Mount these nesting tubes in full sun on an east or south facing fence or wall. Here the mason bees will find them and move in.

If you find there are no cocoons in your nesting tubes by late summer (mid-August/September), you should order mason bee cocoons which will be sent to you the following January through March.

Plants to Attract Blue Orchard Mason Bees

To attract these industrious pollinators to your neighborhood, plant a wide range of flowering plants. Fruit trees (like apricots, almonds, plums, cherries, apples and others), flowering trees (like crabapples, ornamental pears, plums, cherries and others), flowering and fruiting shrubs like Ribes 'Crandall' (Current), Prunus besseyi 'Select Spreader' and 'Pawnee Buttes' (Sand Cherry), Philadelphus 'June bride' or 'Cheyenne' (Mock Orange) and Rhus 'Autumn Amber' (Three Leaf Sumac) and others.

Perennial flowers like Salvia juriscii 'Blue' (Cutleaf Sage), Erigeron 'Basin Fleabane' (Fleabane), Amsonia 'Jones’ Bluestar' (Bluestar), Rosmarinus 'Irene' (Rosemary), Nepeta (Catmint) and Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender) are also excellent pollen providers.

Copyright © 1998-2009 Santa Fe Greenhouses, Inc DBA High Country Gardens, ® Reprinted with permission.